Missing Valentine’s Day already? Keep the love going with these few sweet picks from the kids’ staff at the Harvard Coop Bookstore. Get a PDF of the whole list here.
In this follow-up to Splat the Cat (HarperCollins, 2008), the fuzzy black feline learns that bigger isn’t better when it comes to Valentine’s Day cards. Splat has a crush on Kitten, a fluffy white cat with pea-green eyes, but he isn’t the only one. Self-assured Spike informs Splat that he likes her much more and has prepared a superior Valentine to prove it. Discouraged, Splat tosses his tribute into the trash. Kitten smiles as she receives Spike’s card but doesn’t swoon as she reads, “You are so lucky that I like you.” Happily, she notices the little red envelope in the trash and surprises Splat with a pink Valentine that leaves him grinning from ear to ear. The cartoon-style illustrations have a contemporary, quirky feel due to the monochromatic palette, which is punctuated with brightly colored details. Children will giggle at Splat’s awkward interactions with Kitten and smile at the story’s satisfying conclusion.—Lisa Glasscock, Columbine Public Library, Littleton, CO
- ages 3 & up
- fun take on why bigger is not always better
- Unusual, cartoony illustrations will appeal to both kids and adults
The Day it Rained Hearts, Felicia Bond
Originally published in 1983 as Four Valentines in a Rainstorm, this sweet book remains the same except for a new cover. Still, many libraries will no longer have the original, and this is a good choice for holiday shelves. Young Cornelia is walking along when it starts raining hearts. Catching them in her hand and in her yellow slicker, she takes them home to make valentines. Because each heart is different, she is able to make very special cards for her special friends. The small watercolor-and-ink illustrations in the center of each snowy page give the spreads a cozy feel. Little ones will enjoy watching as Cornelia catches her hearts and decides what to do with them, and they will appreciate the happiness the valentines bring to Rabbit, Turtle, Mouse, and Dog.–Ilene Cooper
- ages 3 – 5
- story encourages discussion about individuality and giving
- classic, elegant watercolor illustrations are a favorite with adults
Almost everything about Valentine’s Day is fancy . . . especially with Fancy Nancy! Mystery is in the air when Nancy receives a valentine from a secret someone. Join Nancy as she follows the clues to find out who it is—all in her trademark fabulous style, of course.
- ages 4 & up
- kids will enjoy following the clues to find Nancy’s secret valentine
- filled with opportunities to discuss about new words
- stickers included
Henry in Love, Peter Mccarty
Henry the cat is in love with Chloe, the cute little bunny in the back row. On this particular day, his mother makes blueberry muffins for her sons to take for lunch, but Henry saves his for afternoon snack as a special treat. He is the typical little boy who is short on words but big on action. He does a forward roll to impress Chloe, but she bests him with an impressive cartwheel. Later, the teacher reassigns seats and Chloe moves up next to Henry. At snack time, she asks him what he has, and he shows her his big, beautiful blueberry muffin. Henry, who has yet to say a word to his favorite little girl, is surprised but pleased when Chloe thanks him and takes it. It seems that all is fair in love and kindergarten. McCarty’s meticulous ink and watercolor art greatly extends the spare, understated text. The exquisite cream-colored pages bring richness to the presentation that makes readers want to turn each page. This beautiful book should appeal to the little ones who have a special someone in their lives but dare not say a word about it.—Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA
- ages 4 & up
- strong female character
- short text is easy for older kids and independent readers
In this ninth outing in the series, the naughty behaviors of young dinosaurs are followed by an endearing act that reminds their human parents why they love their offspring. The situations are familiar: “Out in the sandbox/you threw lots of sand./You ran from the slide,/after slapping my hand.” Fans can follow the 10 dinosaurs by starting with their names and pictures on the endpapers. Expressions are expertly painted for humorous effect, including the defiant Tsintaosaurus letting water overflow onto the floor and the rollicking Pachycephalosaurus kicking the seat while mother is driving the car. The large, colorful spreads and rhyming text that is still a joy to listen to after repeated readings make this a successful storytime selection. Well-designed pictures and skillfully arranged words will entice newly independent readers, who will be challenged to find the dinosaur name hand-lettered in the illustration where the creature is introduced. The familiar format will produce laughs, kisses, and cuddles during or after an exhausting day of many of the same events.—Debbie S. Hoskins, Grand Rapids Public Library, MI END
- ages 4 & up
- nice rhyming scheme make reading aloud fun
- keep an eye out for the hidden dinosaur names!
All kids love dinosaurs, right? These books take dinosaur fun a little further, using our pre-historic friends to introduce new vocabulary, new schools, and fun new dances. Thanks to the Harvard Co-op Bookstore Kids’ staff for the picks!
Thesaurus Rex, Laya Steinberg and Debbie Harter
From School Library Journal:
Filled with descriptive language, the text offers numerous synonyms for each activity…The bouncy, rhyming language is enhanced by bright watercolor-and-crayon illustrations that create a wonderful sense of movement. One picture shows the happy dinosaur jumping into a swamp; brown mud splashes cross over to the opposite page where he is shown again, no longer smiling and buried in the slime. An entertaining and painless way for children to broaden their vocabulary while enjoying a fun story.
- ages 4 -8
- great way to introduce new vocabulary
- fun, bouncy language encourages a love of words
- bright colors are good for younger kids
Saturday Night at the Dinosaur Stomp, Carol Diggory Shields and Scott Nash
From Kirkus Reviews:
Dinosaurs get down and boogie at a Saturday all-night bash: Shields’s rhymes and Nash’s drawings create an extravaganza of prehistoric fun. Saturday evening the dinosaurs primp and preen, preparing for the big dance. Then they go out to stomp their feet, crank their guitars, and dance so hard they create the first earthquake, upsetting volcanoes into a fireworks display. The party lasts until the Cenozoic dawns, when all the dinosaurs settle in for some sleep. Witty and imaginative, the poem has a rhythm that makes cumbersome multi-syllable dinosaur names roll off the tongue–good read-aloud material. The illustrations match the text’s exuberance with drawings of boisterously striped and polka-dotted dinosaurs, who play bongos, dance congas, and kick up their heels.
- ages 4 -8
- uses real dinosaur names, such as “diplodocus”
- many opportunities to introduce a dance component to story time, and encourage kids to get up and moving
Curious George goes on a dinosaur dig and gets into some mischief, ultimately helping scientists discover some dinosaur bones.
- ages 4-8, though younger children may enjoy paging through the pictures
- introduces the importance of history, and some basic archaeology
- the CD available with the story helps kids learn to read along
- other books include “Curious George at the Aquarium” and “Curious George in the Snow”
From School Library Journal:
A new cast of brightly colored dinosaurs appears in this charming back-to-school story. The text’s easy rhyme and rhythm will be familiar to those who have read other books in this series, and Teague’s charismatic and naughty dinosaurs will continue to delight readers with their antics and exuberance. The illustration accompanying “DOES A DINOSAUR YELL?” is sure to elicit smiles as an excited Herrerasaurus leaps out of his chair proudly holding up a newly lost tooth. His teacher looks annoyed, but his classmates all turn toward him with their own gap-toothed grins. The 10 dinosaurs that appear are identified on the endpapers where each is hard at work or play. Stygimoloch using one arm to prop up his raised hand as he blurts out is also likely to draw a smile from veteran teachers. A fun read-aloud for the first day of school.
- ages 3 and up
- dinosaur species and marking are recognizable
- great way to make the first day of school seem less intimidating
- other books in the series include “How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You?”, “How Do Dinosaurs Go To The Dentist?” and “How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?”
Now, I’ve done a couple of writing workshops before, but they were a) a very long time ago and b) with kids in a more classroom like setting with a clear list of needs (grammar, verbs, and the ins and outs of dialogue). This was quite a change–most of the kids loved stories, but thought writing boring, something best left for the classroom.
Unsurprisingly, it took us a while to get started. Even at the best of times, 9 year olds have a pretty limited attention span. 9 year olds with a new person who speaks funny have an even smaller one. We started with me answering the standard questions:
Where are you from?
Have you seen a kangaroo?
Yes. I grew up with them in the backyard, and my aunt had a joey for a while. She used to wear him in a pouch around her neck.
Is it hot in Australia? Is it far?
Yes & Yes.
How old you are?
That’s old! I thought you were like 30! How old’s your husband?
I know. He’s an old man, but I love him anyway.
We then moved on to stories. This took some time. We talked about favorite books (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Charlotte’s Web), favorite tv shows (Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Extreme Makeover, Sponge Bob Square Pants, Sonny and Chance), and how a story works. Then we talked about favorite characters, and why we liked them (funny, silly, dumb, fat–the fat and dumb parts really threw me, but that’s another post). I had to ask about some of the newer shows:
What’s Sonny and Chance?
It’s a show on tv.
I don’t have a tv. We watch shows on my computer.
What? No tv? But aren’t you like rich or something?
But you have a job and a husband!
Do you know what my husband does? He’s a student, getting his Ph.D. That means he sits in front of a computer doing some boring math stuff all day. People don’t pay well for that.
But you work too!
I’m a freelance writer. So I make some money, but I don’t have a set job. I do a lot of different things for different people. And I have a 14 week old baby, who needs a lot of stuff, so we’re not rich. Do you know how much a baby needs?
YES! I have a sister–and I have a brother–and, and, and…
Of course, we also talked about voice–I had the kids tell me things in different voices, pretending they were older, or younger. I think they actually found older easier. Most of them were embarrassed about acting younger.
Interestingly, though, the part they enjoyed most was the writing. Despite their protests, we did a freewrite about their first day of school, then discussed the bits we liked. Each of the kids had a clear talent for description, and some of them even included very realistic dialogue. Here’s one that really stood out (as I remember it–all the kids took their stories home; some even wanted to type them up):
I was really nervous on my first day of school because I’d heard my teacher was really mean and she spits. She does spit! It’s really gross and she spat on me like twice, and she yelled at me.
p.s. when she comes back from lunch she’s always wearing a lot of lipstick.
I also did the freewrite. Here’s my sample:
“Why do I have to go again? Everybody’s going to hate me and it’s boring and I don’t want to go.”
I want to say I hate you and it’s not fair, but I don’t. It’s not like my mom’ll hit me of anything, but she’ll give me her evil I’m so going to punish you and you won’t even see it coming stare. Like no dessert. Or cleaning out the sandbox which is always full of cat poop. Or sorting through the recycling which is the worst because it always smells like fish because my brother’s favorite food is tuna.
I was actually quite nervous about delivering my work. The librarian and my friend, Maura, had been talking me up to the kids, so my palms were sweating when I started. It went really well, though:
OMG, that was like an actual book!
You’re so good! How’d you do that?
Do you always sound like a real book?
(And yes, one did actually say “OMG”.)
We finished up with me reading to them while they colored in. All in all, I count the afternoon as a success, and will be doing a few more workshops–albeit with more distinct age groups–over the next couple of months.
Have you ever done a workshop? How did it go? Any tips or tricks?